William Mahone didn’t think Notre Dame fit his recruiting profile.
Then the four-star running back from Austintown, Ohio made a summer visit to South Bend on the advice of a friend. Then the Irish climbed over Penn State in mid-September after official visits to both programs. And finally on Friday night after Fitch High School’s game against Jackson, Notre Dame scored Mahone’s commitment over Pittsburgh.
Mahone announced the decision to a group of reporters, including Rivals.com.
Mahone sat out because of a badly sprained left ankle suffered on his first carry against Glen Oak last Friday. He’d planned to see Notre Dame’s game at Pittsburgh on Sept. 24 but stayed home for x-rays.
Mahone knew a commitment was close for most of September, and revealed he had a leader as of last weekend. The running back believed he’d commit in the next few weeks with plans to return to South Bend for Notre Dame’s night game against USC. Considering Mahone hoped to be off the market before that third Irish look, his commitment to Brian Kelly’s program wasn’t seen as a surprise.
Offensive line coach Ed Warinner, whose territory includes northern Ohio, led Notre Dame’s recruitment of Mahone. The Irish plan to attend Mahone’s game during Notre Dame’s mid-October bye weekend.
At Notre Dame, Mahone will join a depth chart that’s been shallow all season. The Irish will lose Jonas Gray after the year. Cierre Wood has two years of eligibility remaining although he’s on pace for a 1,200-yard regular season and might not stick around South Bend that long.
Notre Dame’s running back depth chart behind the upperclassmen consists of converted freshman receiver George Atkinson III and rookie Cam McDaniel. The Irish also have sophomore Cam Roberson, who’s recovering from spring knee surgery after damaging multiple ligaments.
The recruiting picture at running back has Notre Dame searching for a couple commitments at the position, meaning Mahone gets the program halfway home. With Mahone’s size in the commitment column, the Irish can focus on speed options Keith Marshall, Byron Marshall and KeiVarae Russell, all scheduled for official visits during the USC weekend.